Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1079 ( Tuesday 17 March 2015 )
1) PNG PM assures help for Bougainville
By Online Editor
11:08 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has assured the people of Bougainville of the Government’s commitment to provide the services they want.
He signed a list of resolutions with Autonomous Bougainville Government President Dr John Momis during a joint supervisory body meeting in Arawa last Friday.
The signing of the resolutions was seen as the most significant since the Bougainville peace agreement.
The resolutions support Bougainville’s referendum period to determine its autonomy status from 2015 to 2020.
“Even though the autonomy structure is new and challenging, and there have been unnecessary delays in the transfer of powers, we will commit to see substantial progress,” O’Neill said.
Momis promised that whatever resolutions agreed on would be pursued until they were realised.
“This (signing) is a demonstration of what can be achieved when there is commitment from both sides,” he said.
“It is now time to implement the Bougainville peace agreement through what is mutually acceptable by both parties.”
National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs director Ellison ToWallom and his team were commended for ensuring that the joint supervisory body meeting was successful.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
Just back on-line at the National Disaster Management Centre where there is power and internet. Will be on-line for a couple of hours each day at the Centre until internet is restored.
1. YUMI NOGAT ENI INFOMESEN LONG SITUATION OUTSIDE PORT VILA
At present we only have cell phone connection in Port Vila and south Efate – north Efate and all the rest of Vanuatu no communication yet so no idea what is happening outside Vila. Teouma Bridge and Creek Ai bridge both gone so cannot even get to Teouma or north Efate. The first aerial recon was over Shefa yesterday and over Tafea today, aerial recon for other provinces will be done tomorrow. Digicel and TVL are out there repairing their towers so we can communicate with other islands. A state of emergency was declared for Shefa 2 days ago, once aerial assessments are in, the state of emergency will be extended to other provinces, if not the whole country. The total population of Vanuatu is considered to be affected, as the cyclone travelled north to south, with the eye going over Shepherds, Efate, Erromango and Tanna.
2. DONATE TOWARDS THE VANUATU CYCLONE RELIEF EFFORT
Yufala aotsaed long Vanuatu we i wantem help, hemia hemi wan website we yu save mekem on-line donesen – mi mi endorsem olgeta bihaen long websaet ia:
3. PORT VILA UPDATE
Elektrisiti: Unelco i on-em paoa finis long evri ples we i gat power-laen i pas andanit long graon, naoia oli stap wok blong on-em paoa long ples we laen i pas long ol post – oli stap wok hard blong konektem ol eria, mo sam eria i gat paoa finis, eg, Champagne Estate, Nambatu long saed blong harbour, Tasariki. Slo-slo, bae evri eria i kasem paoa.
Wota long taon: Unelco i on-em 90% blong wota saplae sistem finis – ol las ples olsem Blacksands i shud konekt tede
Wota long Beverley Hills mo Bellevue Estate mo Teoumaville: Problem se nogat paoa blong ranem pump blong pumpem wota – Unelco i stap traem blong mekem paoa i kambak kwik, mo from we i nogat ol jenereta we oli inaf blong ranem pump long Vila, Gavman i stap traem blong tekem 2 jenereta i kam long Noumea naoia – wan blong Beverley Hills mo Bellevue Estate mo wan blong Teoumaville we bae i saplae go long Teouma Valley mo Teouma Bush mo Rentapau.
Ol bank i open finis blong lokol, mo mi harem se tumoro taem paoa i kam bae oli wok full wan bakagen.
Ralph Regenvanu ( Vanuatu Minister For Lands )
Promised support from Fiji Chinese community
By Atasa Moceituba
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 15, 2015) – The Chinese community today welcomed the new Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Zhang Ping.
Chinese Association of Fiji president Jenny Seeto promised the ambassador that the association would support him in all his decisions and plans in the upcoming years.
She said they were always proud of the achievements of China and the relationship they share with Fiji.
Fiji Times Online.
4) UN office hopes Tonga ratifies CEDAW unconditionally
16 March 2015
The regional UN Human Rights Office is encouraging Tonga to remove conditions from its pending ratification of an international convention on women’s rights.
The office head Satya Jennings says the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, is a start but more can be done.
Tonga’s ratification comes with conditions, including local law superceding the convention in terms of succession to the throne and nobility, abortion and same sex marriage.
Ms Jennings says that is not ideal.
“The UN Human Rights Office based in the Pacific would hope that could be retracted and that the government would ratify CEDAW without reservations in order to guarantee the full protection and all the provisions under the convention which would expand the protection of women’s rights.”
The head of the UN Human Rights Office in the Pacific, Satya Jennings.RNZI
5) Pitfalls addressed in Samoa passport scheme
By Online Editor
8:14 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Samoa
An academic who’s studied passport sales in the region says Samoa’s citizenship investment plan appears to have addressed some common pitfalls.
People in Samoa are being asked to give their views on the Citizenship Investment Bill which would give citizenship to foreign investors with at least two million US dollars to spend.
Anthony van Fossen of Australia’s Griffith University says the attempt to outlaw agents and the proposal for a vetting committee are among steps which might avoid problems experienced in Marshall Islands and Tonga.
“Particularly the committee and the proposal of quite complete public accountability. Those are very good measures. It took the Tonga monarchy many years to achieve anything even remotely like what’s being proposed in Samoa in terms of transparency.”
Dr van Fossen says his research shows even legitimate citizenship programmes do nothing to stop the illegal and uncontrolled sale of passports.
6) Tuvalu PM: 45% Of Tuvalu Population Displaced
Health and safety concerns abound
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 15, 2015) – The Prime Minister of Tuvalu says nearly half of the population has been displaced by Cyclone Pam.
Enele Sopoaga said most people living on the outer islands had been severely affected, with houses and crops being washed away and at least one island being entirely flooded.
Tuvalu has a population of 9876 at the last census in 2013.
He said there was a health and safety concern following some cemeteries being destroyed.
“Forty five percent of the population of Tuvalu, most of whom are on the outer islands, have been affected, badly, severly affected. We are worried about the aftermath in terms of hygeine and supplies of essential materials like food, medicine and water.”
Enele Sopoaga said government boats would travel to the outer islands this afternoon to assess the extent of the damage and hand out emergency supplies.
Radio New Zealand International
7) Emergency supplies being mobilised for Tuvalu
16 March 2015
Tuvalu can expect Red Cross relief supplies on Tuesday to deal with damage after the storm surge caused by Cyclone Pam.
Nearly half of the the country’s population of approximately nine and a half thousand has been displaced by the flooding which washed away houses and crops.
The Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga says most people living in the outer islands have been affected and at least one island was entirely flooded.
He says they are worried about hygiene and the lack of essentials like food, medicine and water.
“There’s an issue of logistics and the delivery we need to strategise very, very carefully, and coordinate from now on. We are remaining on top of the issues, I think, and we are trying our best. We will remain as viligant as we can but we will welcome any help,” he said.
Hygiene kits, blankets, water containers on the way
The regional head for the International Red Cross Aurelia Balpe says hygiene kits, blankets, kitchen sets and water containers are being flown in from Fiji.
“That will be sent on to some of the outer islands affected by the storm surges that we saw earlier (last) week. There are two or three particular islands that were badly affected and the government is sending a boat with those supplies mid (this) week.”
The government is sending assessment teams to the outer islands most affected by Cyclone Pam to get a better understanding of the damage.
Mr Sopoaga says officials are working around the clock to monitor the situation and provide radio advisories to the outer islands.
“We have been relying on telephone communications only over the past five days. We are mobilising vessels to actually visit with a team, we call a rapid assessment team, to assess the situation on the ground. And I want to be informed exactly what the situation is.”
Listen to the full interview with Enele Sopoaga on Dateline Pacific ( 4 min 37 sec )
Tuvalu – locals assessing damage following flooding
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully says aerial surveys by a New Zealand defence force aircraft at the weekend show Tuvalu came through Cyclone Pam in better shape than Vanuatu.
“They’ve been hit substantially by high seas but it appears the damage to accommodation is nothing like that suffered by Vanuatu. We have had a request for some support in terms of medical supplies, and we’re looking at how quickly we can manage that right now.”
He says the government of Tuvalu seems to be able to cope and the international aid effort will be focused on Vanuatu.RNZI
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8) Tropical storm Bavi forces CNMI residents to take shelter
16 March 2015
Dozens of people in the Northern Marianas sought refuge in evacuation centres as Tropical Storm Bavi battered the territory on Sunday.
The tropical storm knocked down power lines and trees, and caused damage to some houses and structures, triggering island-wide power outages, and sending 166 people to the official shelters on Saipan, Tinian and Rota
Airlines cancelled their flights, all seaports were closed to vessels, and recreational dive sites and beaches were off limits due to strong currents and high surf.
All public schools were closed on Monday.
The U.S. National Weather Service said Bavi was moving west at 37 kilometres an hour last night with storm force winds of 63 kilometres an hour or greater expected through Monday morning.RNZI
9) Kiribati reports severe damage in south from Pam
16 March 2015
The Kiribati government says it is receiving reports of severe damage on three of the nation’s southern islands following high winds and sea surges due to Cyclone Pam.
A government spokesman, Rimon Rimon, says a full assessment of the damage is underway but yet to be completed.
He says the main link on Kiribati’s most populous atoll Tarawa has been hit by destructive seas over the past week but is now operating under police control in a limited capacity after repairs.
He says seawalls and homes have been damaged.
“We have reports coming in from three of the southern islands, some have had to move from one side, they’ve been residing on one side of the island and due to the wind and the waves, they had to, all the village had to relocate to the other end. So it’s affecting their lives, their livelihoods. I think it’s going to take quite a long time for them to get back to normal.”
Rimon Rimon says Kiribati is bracing for another spring tide which is due to hit this week.
But a manager for a local import company says more work should have been done to maintain the vital causeway.
The causeway links Betio and Bairiki, with much of the countrys imports and fuel supplies transported from Betio, via the causeway.
The operations manager for import and distribution company Moel Trading, Willie Maen, says every few metres of the causeway is damaged and more should have been done sooner.
“Rather than wait until this time when everything is really bad, the causeway is really devastated. We are reacting to an emergency situation, the maintenance should have been done years ago.”
The Kiribati government says work will continue throughout the weekend to try and ensure all damages are repaired as soon as possible.RNZI
10) Vanuatu i stap insait long bikpela heve Cyclone Pam ibin kamapim
Updated 16 March 2015, 15:56 AEDT
National Disasta Management ofis long Vanuatu itok oli go hed long helpim ol pipal long kantri bihaen long Cyclone Pam ibin hamarim kantri long wikend.
Odio: Mishael Garae Lulu, media liaison ofisa blong Vanuatu NDMO i toktok
Odio: Vanuatu Minister blong Lands Ralph Regenvanu i toktok
Mishael Garae Lulu, media liaison ofisa blong NDMO i mekim despla toktok tede taem gavman na ol Aid agensis iwok bung blong helpim ol pipal wantem sampla sevis.
Oli tok cyclone Pam em oli bin makim strong blong en olsem Catogory 5 ibin wanpla bikpla taem nogut em oli no bin lukim bifo long kantri.
Cyclone Pam ibin bagarapim planti gaden kaikai, bagarapim tu ol telefon line namel long ol Provins na Efate we Port Vila istap long en, tasol ol despla sevis iwok long kamap gut isi isi nau.
Mr Lulu itok tu olsem oli save olsem 30 pipal istap nau long haus sik long Port Vila taem sikispla pipal i dai.
Na stap iet long despla wari long Vanuatu na aste gavman ibin kamapim wanpla stat of imegensi long Shefa province we biktaon Port Vila istap long en bihaenim despla cyclone.
Minister blong Lands Ralph Regenvanu itok despla state of imegensi istap tasol long Shefa provins long wonem oli no save iet long ol bagarap istap long ol narapla provins blong kantri.Radio Australia
11) Solomon Islands i wok painim aut bihain long Cyclone Pam
Updated 16 March 2015, 15:00 AEDT
Ol disasta emergency otoriti long Solomon Islands i nau wok long painim aut wanem kan nagarap tru Tropical Cyclone Pam ibin kamapim long kantri last wik.
Solomon Islands i wok painim aut long bagarap Cyclone Pam ibin kamapim (Credit: ABC)
Odio: George Baragamu Chief Operations Ofisa blong Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office i toktok
Wanpela ripot i tok olsem Cyclone Pam ibin kilim dai wanpela man na sampela pipol ibin kisim bagarap.
George Baragamu Chief Operations Ofisa blong Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office itok man ia ibin dai taim kokonas tri bin pudaun longen long Central Province, tasol ol i lukluk yet long dispela ripot.
Na em i tok bikpela heve moa ibin kamap long outer islands blong Temotu Province we i klostu long Vanuatu.
Mr Baragamu i tok wanpela Australian Defence Force Orion balus ibin flae long wiken na i lukim long ea olsem ailan blong Anuta nau i bagarap olgeta.
Tasol em i tok ol i no bin mekim kontakt yet wantaim pipol long dispela ailan ikam inap nau.Radio Australia
12) Brèves du Pacifique – lundi 16 mars 2015
Mis à jour 16 March 2015, 16:26 AEDT
« C’est révolutionnaire ! » se félicite le ministre australien de l’environnement, Greg Hunt. Il vient de présenter un projet de loi sur l’interdiction totale du déversement des déchets de dragage dans le parc marin de la Grande Barrière de corail.
Le texte permettra de mettre un terme à cette pratique une fois pour toutes, souligne le ministre. Ce projet de loi est présenté deux mois seulement avant une réunion cruciale de l’Unesco, qui a menacé de placer la Grande Barrière sur sa liste du patrimoine en péril.
Le gouvernement australien va de nouveau tenter de faire passer sa réforme des universités, cette semaine. Cette réforme prévoit notamment de déréglementer le secteur, permettant à chaque fac de fixer ses prix de scolarité. En décembre dernier, le gouvernement n’avait pas réussi à obtenir l’aval des sénateurs, et cela s’annonce à nouveau difficile : plusieurs élus indépendants ont indiqué qu’ils voteraient contre la réforme. Or, la coalition libérale-nationale n’a pas la majorité requise pour faire passer le texte sans leur soutien.
- L’homme d’affaires Yogesh Punja est le nouvel ambassadeur fidjien en Australie. Une nomination qui « prouve que le gouvernement fidjien travaille à la reprise et au renforcement des relations entre Suva et Canberra », se félicite le ministère fidjien de la Communication. C’est en novembre dernier que la nouvelle ambassadrice australienne, Margaret Twomey, avait présenté ses lettres de créance au président fidjien. La normalisation des relations entre les deux pays fait suite au rétablissement de la démocratie, en septembre.
- Il sera bientôt interdit de se marier avant 18 ans en Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée. Une nouvelle loi est en préparation. Elle sera soumise au Parlement en mai prochain. C’est pour protéger les droits des enfants que cette décision est prise, affirment les autorités. Jusqu’à présent, il existait deux lois différentes : il fallait avoir 21 ans minimum pour se marier légalement, tandis qu’un mariage coutumier pouvait unir une fille de 14 ans et un garçon de 18 ans.
- Une association se bat pour que les territoires américains du Pacifique aient plus de droits politiques. Nommé « We the people Project », ce groupe a notamment intenté une action en justice pour que les Samoans américains soient considérés comme des citoyens américains à part entière, et non seulement des ressortissants américains. L’association souhaite également que les habitants des Samoa américaines, mais aussi de Guam et des Îles Mariannes du nord puissent élire le président des États-Unis et être représentés au Congrès.
- De nouvelles révélations sur l’espionnage par la Nouvelle-Zélande de ses voisins du Pacifique. Dans son dernier article, le journaliste d’investigation Nicky Hager rapporte que Wellington s’est intéressé de près à l’entourage de l’ancien Premier ministre des Îles Salomon, Gordon Darcy Lilo, ainsi qu’à un militant anti-corruption, Benjamin Afuga. Mais le gouvernement néo-zélandais se montre confiant : cela ne va pas affecter les relations avec les Îles Salomon. « Les responsables politiques du Pacifique sont suffisamment intelligents pour ne pas croire ce qui est écrit dans les journaux néo-zélandais », déclare ainsi le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Murray McCully.Radio Australia
13) Le Vanuatu dévasté par Pam : « On va devoir recommencer à zéro »
By Online Editor
8:15 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, New Caledonia
With the extent of the impacts of tropical cyclone Pam on Pacific Island nations not yet known – and indeed still unfolding – the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is on standby to provide technical assistance to the affected countries.
SPC Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, said SPC is ready to deploy teams to Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands, depending on the governments’ needs in the wake of the severe tropical cyclone.
Dr Tukuitonga wrote to Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office to offer SPC assistance, given the greatest impact of the cyclone is expected to be felt in Vanuatu.
With the world’s governments currently meeting in Sendai, Japan, to approve a new global framework on disaster risk reduction, Dr Tukuitonga said cyclone Pam was a stark reminder of how highly vulnerable to natural disasters Pacific Islands’ populations and economies are.
“The Secretariat is keeping a very close eye on developments and the path tropical cyclone Pam is taking,” Dr Tukuitonga said.
“As has been SPC’s long-standing practise, we are ready to deploy disaster response teams to reinforce government capacity in National Disaster Management Offices and provide a range of technical assistance based on the governments’ specific needs, and in concert with the United Nations and the Red Cross.
“If necessary we will recall our disaster management experts who are currently part of the Pacific delegation participating in the UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan.
“The Pacific Community is close-knit and our thoughts and prayers are with the governments and people of Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu,” Dr Tukuitonga said.
In an SPC video message released for the world conference on YouTube, the Director-General appealed for stronger action: “Whatever form a post-2015 framework takes, it’s important that the world community adopts a stronger approach to disaster risk reduction.”.
15) Japan’s Tohoku region hopes to rebuild itself to what it was before the March 11, 2011 disaster
By Online Editor
8:01 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Japan
By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Sendai
Four years ago, Japan’s Tohoku region was devastated by the deadly tsunami that was generated from 9.0 earthquakes that struck the island nation. Today, the region including its city of Sendai has rehabilitated itself to become a model for disaster rehabilitation for the world.
The Great East Japan earthquake struck on March 11, 2011 followed by a savage tsunami that overwhelmed and claimed 18,000 lives in the Tohoku region.
From that day, the road to recovery started. That recovery is still continuing, four years later.
Days after the earthquake, volunteers flowed into the disaster affected areas from across the nation while extensive disaster relief started from around the globe. Volunteers helped locals remove rubble and debris to help develop a foundation for the restoration of basic lifeline and infrastructure.
“This was the first step in the long and arduous Tohoku recovery process, according to specialized reconstruction agency tasked with the role of overseeing the rehabilitation that followed.
By 31 March, 2014, the removal of debris was completed in 231 municipalities in 12 prefectures. However, the removal of disaster debris from certain areas of Fukushima is ongoing.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Tohoku region lost their worldly possessions in the disaster including their homes. The national and local governments are making the utmost efforts to develop residential and public housing for the evacuees.
In each of the prefectures of Iwate and Miyagi and Fukushima, approximately 29,000 homes and private residential land properties are scheduled to be developed by 31 March 2016.
Another initiative now pursed by local and national authorities is the relocation of homes to higher grounds, as new hometowns are planned.
At the end of last year, 34 percent of relocation have been completed and 95 percent of construction is now in progress.
“Taking their ideas and needs into close consideration, the local governments have carefully developed a master plan for each area for restoration of public infrastructure and the creation of a safe environment, said the reconstruction agency.
The rehabilitation process also took into account the health and mental support for evacuees. Certified social workers and social welfare co-coordinators have been assigned to disaster affected areas to provide local residents with welfare services.
To date, the number of people moving to permanent housing from temporary housing has steadily increased, lowering the number of evacuees from 470,000 to 230,000 in January this year.
Part of the successful rehabilitation programme in the Tohoku region is to eventually bring life back to normal for its people. Local authorities are reviving the once robust fishery, agriculture and tourism industries to ensure the region becomes an inviting place to live.
At the same time, the national and local governments are rebuilding their places of work through a variety of support systems.
It is the general hope of the people of Tohoku after the reconstruction that the region will return to the way it was before the disaster and make it and ‘ideal’ to live in Japan.
During the five day United Nations world conference for disaster risk reduction, delegates were taken on excursion visits and tours to see first-hand the reconstruction and rehabilitation carried out in many communities in the Tohoku region.
16) Fiji’s new MP to be sworn in this week
By Online Editor
11:07 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Fiji
SUVA, 16 MARCH 2015 (FIJI LIVE) —- Former school teacher and acting general secretary of the Fijian Teachers Association, Mikaele Rokosova Leawere will be sworn in as a opposition member of Parliament this week.
Announcing this in Parliament’s session today, Speaker of House Dr Jiko Luveni said the Electoral Commission has confirmed that Leawere will be awarded the vacant position in Parliament.
The Opposition seat was left vacant following the passing away of sitting MP Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua.
Leawere who has served more than 15 years in the civil service was ranked 15th in the final list of SODELPA candidates who got the most votes in last year’s elections and legally fulfills all requirements in the Constitution.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
17) Improving the Economic and Business Environment in PNG
By Online Editor
4:21 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Papua New Guinea
The Department of Finance and the World Bank have released a report with policy recommendations aimed at strengthening corporate financial reporting and auditing practices in Papua New Guinea.
The report was undertaken at the request of the Government of PNG to guide improvements in PNG’s business environment, and advance governance and financial accountability in corporations, State Owned Enterprises, and the financial sector entities, that are of a public interest.
“Reliable and transparent accounting and auditing practices is a priority for the Department of Finance,” said Dr Ken Ngangan, Acting Secretary of Finance. “The recommendations from this report will be used to strengthen the quality of financial reporting for the business environment and also bring our practices up to par with international standards.”
The Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) found that improving the corporate financial reporting and auditing systems of the country will advance public and private accountability, create investor confidence, boost economic growth, and support future market growth.
Ultimately, it will help PNG channel revenues from resources into investments that positively impact peoples’ lives.
“It is vital to have good corporate financial reporting and auditing systems in place so benefits of these resources can be felt by the whole Papua New Guinean community,” said Steffi Stallmeister, World Bank Country Manager for Papua New Guinea. “The recommendations of this report will make it easier for both local and international businesses to comply with government requirements.”
The report identified a number of areas that required institutional improvement.
These include creating a clear system for financial reporting to which all businesses can comply; building the capacity of the accounting profession; and strengthening the public sector institutions that regulate, monitor and, enforce the corporate financial reporting and auditing practices in the country.
Other recommendations include:
• Simplifying the standards for financial reporting for small and medium enterprises.
• Clarifying the reporting requirements so companies, both large and small, are better aware of what information needs to be disclosed.
• Improving the quality assurance and public oversight mechanisms for reviewing financial statements and determining compliance.
• Conducting an assessment of the governance systems over how State Owned Enterprises are regulated and monitored.
Following the report launch the Department of Finance and the World Bank hosted a roundtable discussion with key ministerial and industry representatives to progress the ROSC auditing and accounting recommendations.
SOURCE: WORLD BANK/PACNEWS
18) Cell site restoration well underway across Vanuatu: Digicel
By Online Editor
11:19 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Vanuatu
PORT VILA, 16 MARCH 2015 (DIGICEL FIJI) —- As recovery efforts commence in Vanuatu, Digicel has made good progress in restoring its network enabling customers to make and receive calls, text messages and emails.
The Digicel network in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, is almost fully restored and teams will soon now move to connect the rest of Efate, Tanna, Santo and the other islands.
The off-island fibre connectivity has been fully restored and bandwidth capacity over satellite has been increased by 500%, ensuring domestic towers have sufficient network capacity available.
Speaking from Vanuatu, Digicel Asia Pacific CEO, Michael Murphy, said; “We are deeply saddened by and concerned about the destruction caused by Cyclone Pam that hit Vanuatu on Friday and the devastation it has left behind. We know that at this time communications are of utmost importance as families and loved ones stay connected with those across the islands and abroad – and we are working tirelessly to enable customers to do so.
“With that, we have completely restored network connectivity in the capital, Port Vila, and are working with the Government and local companies to get technical staff to the outer islands so we can restore communications in as many locations as possible,” continued Murphy.
Public charging stations are being deployed across the islands so that customers can power their phones and Digicel is providing US$250,000 in free credit so that customers can get in touch with their loved ones as services are restored.
While Digicel’s technical teams from Fiji and Papua New Guinea are currently working remotely, charter planes and helicopters are being prepared for flight today. In addition, Huawei, SES and other key vendors have kindly donated technical resources and equipment to aid Digicel in its recovery efforts.
Updates of network and service availability are being communicated as they happen on Digicel Vanuatu’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DigicelVanuatu .
19) Commercial Flights Resume To Vanuatu
Flights will carry aid supplies and move returning tourists
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 16, 2015) – Air Vanuatu is to resume flights to the Vanuatu capital today, providing special back-to-back flights between Australia and Port Vila.
The flights will carry aid supplies and move returning tourists from Vanuatu.
Air Vanuatu had suspended flights ahead of Tropical Cyclone Pam which caused damage to Port Vila’s Bauerfield International, with the runway flooded and the terminal and control tower sustaining structural damage.
But an Air Vanuatu spokesperson Tiffany Carroll says the airport is ready to receive flights again.
“The authorities, the National Disaster Management Office, Civil Aviation Vanuatu and Air Vanuatu have been working tirelessly to carry out repairs and get everything up to speed. Our aircraft is actually fitted with the required navigation performance tools neccessary to be able to land in conditions such as we’re experiencing in Vila at the moment.”
Tiffany Carroll says Air Vanuatu’s ATR plane is also returning from Noumea and will be resuming domestic flights this week.
Air New Zealand says it’s also hoping to resume services to Vanuatu today.
A spokesperson says it is scheduled to send a plane from Auckland this afternoon, returning tonight.
Radio New Zealand International
20) P Potape denied bail
By Online Editor
11:01 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea convicted Komo-Magarima MP Francis Potape has been denied bail by the Supreme Court for the second time.
Justice George Manuhu handed down the decision on behalf of Justice Don Sawong and Justice Allen David in Waigani last Friday.
The court refused the bail application because the ground Potape relied on did not constitute “exceptional circumstances”.
Manuhu will provide a written judgment this week.
The bail application relied on section 11 of the Bail Act and Order 11 Rule 27 of the Supreme Court.
Potape’s lawyer Philip Ame had relied on four grounds for bail that included the prospect of the success of his appeal, Potape’s medical condition and his role as a Member of Parliament.
Potape’s earlier bail application was rejected by Justice Derek Hartshorn last month.
The substantive appeal is yet to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Potape was found guilty by the National Court on fraud related charges involving the misuse of K330,000 (US$125,575) of public funds five years ago.
Potape, on Nov 20, 2010, at Tari in Hela, and other members of the Komo-Magarima joint district planning and budget priorities committee agreed to increase their sitting allowances.
Meanwhile, PNG Public Service Minister and Abau MP Sir Puka Temu has denied all allegations made by the Ombudsman Commission against him leading to his referral to the Public Prosecutor.
“Firstly, let me say that I take very seriously my role and responsibility as a leader and as an elected official. I accept the public scrutiny that goes with it,” he said.
“Like all leaders, I am not above the law.
“On Tuesday last week I was summoned by the Ombudsman Commission to their office to be informed of the charges. I enquired as to why I was being referred and the Chief Ombudsman Rigo Lua, in part, said ‘… we are under pressure from the people … the people are asking what we are doing with this leader and that leader …’
“Since (Mr) Lua made this statement in the presence of his fellow Ombudsman and other senior officers, I call on him to name the people who are putting him under pressure to investigate and refer leaders.
“The Ombudsman Commission is supposed to be an independent body, not subject to direction, control or undue influence. It must make decisions to refer leaders only on merit and not as a result of pressure applied by people.
“(Mr) Lua’s statement casts serious doubts about the integrity and independence of the commission and he should come out and state the names of the persons who are putting pressure on the commission to investigate leaders.
“In my case, I have been referred to the Public Prosecutor on two issues. The first relates to the time I was a minister in the Somare-Temu Government where I exercised my powers provided by law as the minister responsible for lands in facilitating the allocation of a piece of State land to a group in the Western Highlands.
“The aggrieved party rightly took the matter to the National Court and the presiding judge ruled in my favour.
“All this evidence was submitted to the Ombudsman Commission, including His Honour’s decision. The situation is that a competent court had dealt with the matter and I was surprised that the commission revisited the same matter.
“The second case involves a road contract awarded by the Abau joint district planning and budget priorities committee to a company owned by my close relatives.
“The allegations by the Ombudsman Commission are that I had a conflict of interest and that due process was not followed,” Temu said in his statement.
“I strenuously deny the allegations,” he said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/…PACNEWS
21) Vanuatu Police Taking Measures To Prevent Looting
Some areas of Port Vila of limits
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 16, 2015) – Police in Vanuatu have deemed some areas in Port Vila off limits in a bid to stop any attempts at looting tonight.
The acting commissioner, Colonel Job Esau says while there haven’t been any serious instances of looting in Port Vila since tropical cyclone Pam struck on Friday, police aren’t taking precautions.
Colonel Esau says police have set specific times for when people can’t move around specific premises, such as shopping areas and the waterfront, to make sure people don’t take advantage of the damage.
“Facilities, installations, private sectors, and also from the yachts that have been washed away by the cyclone. Those are the only areas we have been targetting at the moment, and also some other very affected locations in and around Port Vila.”
Job Esau also says all police officers have been recalled from leave in preparation for what will be a massive operation.
Radio New Zealand International
22) No damage reported after 6.3 earthquake strikes off PNG
16 March 2015
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A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck off the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain this afternoon.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck 9 km northwest of the town of Rabaul, on the northeast tip of New Britain island.
There were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties.RNZI
23) Cyclone Pam: All schools in cyclone-devastated Vanuatu destroyed or damaged, United Nations says
Updated 17 March 2015, 6:45 AEDT
All schools in Vanuatu have been destroyed or damaged by Tropical Cyclone Pam, the United Nations says.
Aid agencies said conditions in cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu were among the most challenging they had ever faced, with the severe storm tearing through the island nation, wiping out villages and displacing thousands.
At least 24 people have been confirmed dead by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and more than 30 people injured after category five Pam tore through on Friday night packing wind gusts of up to 320 kilometres per hour.
Aid workers said they expected the death toll to rise as more information filtered in from the nation’s 65 inhabited islands.
The latest fatalities included a teenage boy and his mother killed by flying debris and two women who were killed when they were crushed by the wall of a church they were sheltering in.
Director of the prime minister’s office, Benjamin Shing, said aerial assessments of parts of Shefa province showed salt water had swept across the populated area.
Flights over Vanuatu’s southern island of Tanna also confirmed widespread destruction of houses and crops.
“There will be extensive injuries if the people didn’t go to higher ground and there might be a lot of fatalities,” Mr Shing said.
Donations can be made to the Australian Red Cross Tropical Cyclone Pam Appeal on their website
He said up to 70 per cent of the country’s population may have been displaced by Cyclone Pam and many parts of the island chain remained cut off from phone lines.
Vanuatu’s population of over a quarter of a million had been living in 69,000 households.
“And out of the 69,000, we are saying that 70 per cent is displaced,” Mr Shing said.
He said there may be enough food for a few more days and then people would be dependent on aid to survive.
Vanuatu’s prime minister Joe Natuman said communication infrastructure had been badly affected and there was still no communication services across the country.
“Communication providers are doing their best to install telephone links throughout the country and they have done that yesterday and today and they assured me today that they will probably install communication by this week,” he said.
The country’s biggest mobile phone company Digicel said it had restored its network in the capital.
Children under the age of five at greatest risk
The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it would set up safe spaces for children to continue with their basic education but said around 17,000 children under the age of five were at risk of poor health and malnutrition after the disaster.
“Children unable to attend school are vulnerable. Children need psychosocial support following the cyclone and its aftermath,” UNICEF said in a statement.
UNICEF said it was also working with Vanuatu’s government on water and sanitation and had begun distributing supplies to affected areas.
Video: Vanuatu’s prime minister Joe Natuman says the scale of damage will not be clear for days (7.30)
We’ve had aerial surveillance… all we can tell is what we suspected, that everything’s destroyed, but we don’t know what’s happening with the people right now
Save the Children’s Vanuatu director Tom Skirrow
Aid organisation CARE estimated 85 per cent of all houses in Port Vila were destroyed.
It said the main water tanks in the capital Port Vila were empty and the city’s power supply had been damaged.
UNICEF said health centres, including the main hospital, had been damaged and patients had been moved to a new outpatient area.
Red Cross Vanuatu chief executive Jacqueline de Gaillarde said shops were already low on supplies because people had stockpiled food before the storm but those supplies were then lost when homes were destroyed.
It said its technicians would now focus on the other main population centres like the rest of Efate island, Tanna and Santo.
Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office said Pam would have long-term effects on the livelihoods of the large number of local farmers, and have a major impact on the nation’s food security.
“Most of these people depend mainly on subsistence farming, so they lost most of their crops and some of them especially in rural areas … might lose income,” operations manager Peter Korisa told the ABC.
“So the priority is how they can resume back to their normal life and how they can sustain their life and maintain food security in those communities.”
Fears for Vanuatu’s isolated island communities
Authorities in Vanuatu are still struggling to establish contact with outer islands that bore the brunt of Pam’s winds.
The southern island of Tanna, about 200 kilometres south of Port Vila, with its 29,000 inhabitants took the full force of the storm.
Vanuatu president pleads for help
Vanuatu’s president Baldwin Lonsdale makes an emotional plea for humanitarian assistance following the destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
Initial reports from aid groups said it had been devastated, along with the main town on the southern island of Erromango, with at least two people reported dead.
Aurelia Balpe, head of the Pacific office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said it appeared Tanna had suffered widespread damage.
She said a local Red Cross volunteer had been “traumatised” by the cyclone’s intensity.
“He sounded like he was in shock and we couldn’t get very much information from him, just that there was devastation,” Ms Balpe said.
Save the Children’s Vanuatu director Tom Skirrow said that aid agencies were preparing supplies but it would likely be three days before airfields in remote islands were cleared.
“We’ve had aerial surveillance … all we can tell is what we suspected, that everything’s destroyed, but we don’t know what’s happening with the people right now,” Mr Skirrow said.
Relief flights have begun arriving in the battered Port Vila with rice, bottled water and medical kits given to more than 1500 people.
But workers on the ground said there was no way to distribute desperately needed supplies across the archipelago.
“Things in Port Vila are improving, people are returning to the market and getting on with the job of starting the clean-up,” said Tom Perry, from CARE Australia.
“But the key thing is we still have no contact with other provinces.
“That’s of grave concern because there’s no real sense from anyone of what the impact has been but we know in the south in particular, it sat under the eye of the storm for hours. It’s not going to be good, there’s no question.”
24) Pam toll in Vanuatu rises to 24
17 March 2015 – Updated at 7:47 am today
Twenty-four people are confirmed to have been killed in Vanuatu by Cyclone Pam, the United Nations says.
Authorities have struggled to contact the islands that bore the brunt of Cyclone Pam, which flattened buildings, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges.
“There are 24 confirmed fatalities, 11 from Tafea, eight from Efate and five from Tanna,” the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a situation report.
The cyclone was carrying winds of up to 300 kilometres an hour when it tore through the Pacific nation last week.
Relief supplies have been arriving on military aircraft, from New Zealand and several other countries, delivering water, sanitation kits, medicines and temporary shelters.
But aid workers on the ground warn of difficulties in distributing supplies across the country’s many islands and say it will take days to reach remote villages flattened by the huge storm.
Vanuatu’s Disaster Management Office hopes to have communication restored with the northern and southern provinces over the next day or so, as they try to find out what has happened to thousands of people there.
A spokesperson for the Disaster Office, Mishael Lulu Garae, said aircraft had been making reconnaissance flights over the provinces and it was hoped to have a full assessment later today.
Damage in Port Vila on Monday, three days after the category five cyclone tore through Vanuatu.
‘Touched by destruction’
Radio New Zealand International reporter Koroi Hawkins, who arrived in Port Vila late last night on a New Zealand Defence Force Hercules, said the capital was unrecognisable.
“Everything seems to be touched by destruction,” he told Morning Report. “I saw a huge warehouse made of brick, the wall has been split in two down the middle by the sheer force of the wind.”
“It’s not like its torn through just part of the town – everything is looking dead twisted or broken,” he said. “It’s like a weird Pacific winter … if anyone’s been to Port Vila, this lovely French-looking idyllic little town, it’s like a war zone.”
Listen to full interview with Koroi Hawkins on Morning Report ( 6 min 50 sec )
The National Disaster Office said the government had enough food supplies for evacuation centres in Port Vila to last the rest of the week, but international food assistance will be needed.
“At the moment it’s really the Vanuatu government who’s looking after the rations at the evacuation centres here in Port Vila. However, in the next like week or so after that they would be needing external support for food needs,” said spokesman Mishael Lulu Garae.
The government estimated about 80 percent of homes in the city had been either destroyed or sustained significant damage, he said, though it was not yet clear how many people in the town of about 40,000 were homeless.
Two more NZDF aircraft were scheduled to leave Auckland today with emergency supplies.
Tanna buildings ‘ravaged’
The southern island of Tanna – about 200 kilometres south of the capital, Port Vila – and its 29,000 inhabitants took the full force of the category five storm.
Aid workers who have landed on Tanna Island say almost all of the traditional houses have been destroyed and residents are in desperate need of food and water.
National director of World Vision in Vanuatu Michael Wolfe visited Tanna Island yesterday and said only one of its general stores survived the cyclone and was still stocked.
“All the other stores have been ravaged and the roofs are blown off, or the windows have blown out. Some of the buildings are still standing but it’s just a skeleton of cement block.”
Mr Wolfe said there appeared to be enough food for about five days, and it would take about four months for local crops to grow back.
The Red Cross has also managed to reach the island and said it had been devastated.RNZI
25) World Bank Offers Rapid Insurance Payout To Vanuatu
Utilizing Pacific Disaster Risk Financing Insurance Programme
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 15, 2015) – The World Bank is looking at providing a rapid insurance payout to the Vanuatu government.
The Washington-based co-operative of 188 countries which supports developing countries says its disaster management team is monitoring the situation in Vanuatu closely.
The bank says given the intensity of the event and the reports of severe damage it is exploring the possibility of a rapid insurance payout under the Pacific Disaster Risk Financing Insurance Programme.
The programme is a joint initiative of the World Bank Group and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
The World Bank says it is ready to help Vanuatu assess what is needed following the Cyclone.
Radio New Zealand International
26) Australian Foreign Minister: $5 million Aid Package For Vanuatu
Provided to Aus NGOs
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 15, 2015) – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced a $5 million assistance package to provide aid to Vanuatu, after the South Pacific archipelago took a direct hit from Tropical Cyclone Pam.
Eight people are confirmed to have died across the country’s 65 inhabited islands after the cyclone, described as one of the worst national disasters in the history of the Pacific by the UN, tore through the islands packing winds of up to 270 kilometres per hour.
With communications down and many areas still inaccessible, relief workers fear the death toll will be much higher.
Ms Bishop said the package would be provided to Australian non-governmental organisations, particularly the Red Cross and other UN partners.
“We will also be deploying humanitarian suppliers to provide support for up to 5,000 people in the form of water, sanitation and shelter,” she said.
“We will be sending military transport planes, and deployment personnel, medical, humanitarian, consular, natural disaster experts and of course supplies.
“We are assessing the damage and destruction across the Pacific caused by the devastating impact of Tropical Cyclone Pam and our thoughts are with our friends in the Pacific.”
Senior Vanuatu cabinet minister Ralph Regenvanu told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that it would take a long time for the country to recover, and that Vanuatu needed its partners to help.
“There’s going to be a very severe long-term effect … the fact that it hit the capital … the financial cost is going to be huge,” he said.
“A lot of structures have been destroyed completely, so it’s going to take a long time to get out of this.
“This is the time of most need, and we’re going to need a lot of assistance, so we’re pretty much counting on our development partners to come forward now with financial assistance and other assistance, because we can’t get through this on our own.”
Mr Regenvanu said one of the major challenges was the lack of power and the limited medical facilities.
“It looks like we need pretty much everything … the roof of the hospital has been taken off, except for the new wing that just opened a few months ago, so everyone there has been transferred to a few rooms, and there is no more space for people needing medical attention,” he said.
“There’s no power, all the power lines are down, and it’ll take a number of days to get that back up, thousands don’t have any homes, there’s no internet, so those are some of the challenges we’re facing right now.”
Five doctors and nurses from the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre are joining a total of ten Australian medical specialists in providing immediate emergency response to casualties.
The centre’s director of disaster preparedness Matthew Harper said the two teams could provide various medical assistance.
“The initial team going in for medical capability will be able to do immediate resuscitation and treatment of persons in hospital,” he said.
“The rapid assessment team will look at everything from what type of disease might be starting from [a] community health perspective, all the way through to what type of injuries are in the community.”
27) Fiji relief team leaves today for Vanuatu
By Online Editor
11:11 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2015, Fiji
Fiji is sending a relief team to cyclone-battered Vanuatu today to assist in disaster recovery efforts.
The team will leave this evening on a Fiji Airways flight, led by Commissioner Western Manasa Tagicakibau.
The relief flight will also carry supplies and equipment to aid victims of Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam.
Fiji is expected to take on a lead role in relief work on the ground when the team arrives.
Meanwhile, Fiji Airways confirms that a supplementary B737 flight will operate to Port Vila this evening, to cater for passengers disrupted from last week’s cancellations.
The airline will assist affected passengers where possible, and has published a set of waivers for those holding tickets and wishing to delay travel to Vanuatu.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/ FIJI AIRWAYS/PACNEWS
28) Vanuatu’s Tanna Island ‘In Ruins’ After Cyclone Pam
National state of emergency likely
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 16, 2015) – The first report from one of Vanuatu’s more remote islands suggests devastation on a massive scale in the wake of Cyclone Pam.
With wind gusts of more than 300 kilometres per hour, Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and destroyed crops. Aid workers describe the situation as catastrophic.
The death toll in Vanuatu is understood to be eight and 20 injured, but those numbers are almost certain to rise as rescuers reach outlying islands.
The full force of category five storm hit Tanna Island on Saturday night, but at that stage the extent of damage on the island of some 29,000 people was unclear.
The head of the Red Cross regional office in Suva, Aurelia Balpe, said a Red Cross worker had made it to Tanna and witnessed an island in ruins.
“What they saw was lots of debris, the foliage was completely destroyed, lots of uprooted trees.
“All corrugated iron structures destroyed, concerte structures, all of them without roofs.
“And, of course, with all the debris we are very worried about the potential injuries that people may have suffered.”
The worker reported two deaths, yet to be be confirmed by Vanuatu’s government.
National state of emergency likely
The Vanuatu Government has declared a State of Emergency in Shefa province and is expecting to announce a national state of emergency following the destruction of Cyclone Pam.
Lands Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, said he had never seen as much destruction in the country.
He said it could be the worst cyclone to ever hit Vanuatu.
“We’ve only declared a state of emergency in Shefa province because that’s where the government is located.
“With the other provinces, because we have no connection at all, we want to get some level of assistance first before a declaration is made.
“I’m 100 percent sure this will be a national state of emergency, simply because this is the biggest cyclone that’s ever hit Vanuatu.”
UNICEF worker in Port Vila, Alice Clements, said people were now getting on with the clean-up.
“We’re seeing people working really industriously to clean the roads and to cut down electrical cables in Port Vila that have been literally covering the roads and [are] very dangerous.
“There’s a long long way ahead of us, but now people are sitting down thinking, ‘okay, what do we need to do’.”
Radio New Zealand International
29) FROM: email@example.com // www.erc.org.au
Our hearts go out to all our partners and friends in the Pacific who have been affected by cyclone Pam so soon after the devastation caused by the March king tides. We need to remind our politicians in Australia that climate change is predicted to make these kinds of events more intnese in the future.
Cyclone Pam has a great impact on the Pacific Islands especially in Vanuatu. There are some people in Vanuatu who have lost their lives.
Trees and crops have been flattened, with residents sheltering in school buildings.
There is a great deal of information and photos on the Pacific Calling Partnership facebook page. Below are other links for full details.
Cyclone damage in Solomon Islands: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/pacific/268599/cyclone-damage-in-solomon-islands
Cyclone Pam: Vanuatu death toll rises as Australia pledges $5m in aid – as it happened
uvalu ‘severely’ hit by Cyclone Pam
uvalu ‘severely’ hit by Cyclone Pam
Tuvalu severely hit by cyclone Pam: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/world/asiapacific/2015/03/15/tuvalu–severely–hit-by-cyclone-pam.html
Flooding in Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tuvalu as Cyclone Pam strengthens
Tuvalu ‘severely’ hit by Cyclone Pam
uvalu ‘severely’ hit by Cyclone Pam
If you wish to donate for humanitarian relief:
Save the children Australia: https://www.savethechildren.org.au/donate/
30) PNG Football says local coaches not forgotten
16 March 2015
The Papua New Guinea Football Association says local coaches have not been forgotten despite an influx of high profile foreign appointments.
Former New Zealand men’s coach Ricki Herbert has taken charge of the PNG Under 23 squad, with a remit to win gold at the Pacific Games in July.
Australian Gary Phillips is in charge of the women’s national team, while Frank Farina and Wynton Rufer have also been employed by PNG Football in recent years.
PNG Football Technical Director, Taku Niebo, says they’ve been lucky to attract such high quality coaches, which he believes will benefit locals in the long run.
“We are in the next stage of our development and with the high profile coaches on board most of the local coaches are working together with them and learning as much as possible to develop their skills and in the next few years you will be seeing local coaches taking over the responsibility of coaching the national teams”.RNZI
31) PNG Hunters stay unbeaten
16 March 2015
The Papua New Guinea Hunters maintained their unbeaten start to the Queensland Cup rugby league season with an entertaining 30-26 victory over the Redcliffe Dolphins in Kokopo on Sunday.
At the end of a volatile week for the sport, following resignation of PNGRFL and Hunters CEO Brad Tassell, the home side ran in six tries to five, with centre Adex Wera bagging a hat-trick and fullback Stargroth Amean crossing twice.
The Hunters are one of only three teams to win their first two games of the season, while the match between Northern Pride and Sunshine Coast was postponed due to extreme weather.RNZI
32) Top ten finish for Vijay Singh
16 March 2015
The Fiji golfer Vijay Singh returned to form with a top ten finish at the PGA tour’s Valspar Championship in Florida.
The 52 year old carded an even par 71 in his final round to be four under for the tournament, ending in a seven-way share of tenth place.
The three-time major winner did climb to as high as third before dropping a couple of shots in the final holes.
It’s the first top ten finish of 2015 for Singh, who missed the cut during his previous outing at the Honda Classic.RNZI